Chip Fab Juggernaut TSMC Shuts Down Several Factories Due To Crippling Computer Virus

TSMC Engineer
Tawian Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) is recovering from a major internal computer virus outbreak that ravaged its systems, forcing the chipmaker to shut down several factories. A full recovery is expected by Monday, August 6, however the fallout from the virus will result in shipment delays and additional costs, the company said.

The virus affected TSMC's computer systems and fabrication tools in Taiwan. TSMC attributed the outbreak to a some sort of misoperation when installing software for a new tool, though the company did not go into specifics. Once the virus tool went online, it spread throughout TSMC's computer network, affecting other systems.

"Data integrity and confidential information were not compromised. TSMC has taken actions to close this security gap and further strengthen security measures," TSMC said.

TSMC's chief financial officer Lora Ho told Bloomberg that the chipmaker has been attacked by viruses in the past, but never has malware affected the company's production lines.

The degree of infection varied by fab. TSMC said it found a solution and has now contained the virus, and has also restored 80 percent of the company's affected tools. However, getting all of its tools back online and operational by Monday will not be the end of it. The company expects the downtime to negatively impact its third quarter revenue by 3 percent, and its gross margin by a single percentage point.

"The Company is confident shipments delayed in third quarter will be recovered in the fourth quarter 2018, and maintains its forecast of high single-digit revenue growth for 2018 in US dollars given on July 19, 2018," TSMC said.

TSMC is one of the world's largest semiconductor players. It builds chips for companies such as AMD, Apple, Broadcom, Marvell, NVIDIA, and several others. The company recently broke ground on a 5-nanometer chip fab that it expects to produce chips in 2020.